It has been a difficult period for lamb producers, with heavy cuts severely reducing returns. Fortunately the trade seems to be steadying now and further heavy price cuts were not implemented this week. Farmers are securing €4.90/kg to €4.95/kg in the main, with some producers with large numbers of in-spec lambs securing up to €5.00/kg. At the top end of the market, producer groups are securing up to €5.10/kg for lambs. Throughput has not been as strong as recently and may have helped to hold price.
The total sheep kill decreased slightly last week to a total kill of 60,303 head. This is down approximately 2,000 head on the week previous. Lamb numbers were back too at 49,006 head, down 2,784 head on the week previous.
The reduced supply may have helped contribute to the steadying in price as factories realised numbers were going to be a little tighter than expected. Weaning has taken place on the majority of farms and any lambs fit for slaughter have been drafted now. This may be telling in the recent dip in supplies.
Farmers have also been adjusting to the current weather situation and many have made the decision to supplement lambs with concentrates. Some farmers who have killed lambs off grass alone were left disappointed with kill-out and they feel concentrates will now be required to reach adequate flesh cover. The big rush to sell lambs is subsiding somewhat as a result and this should help to steady the trade and ward off further price cuts.
Meat yields in factories also took a hit over the last fortnight as many farmers took the option to offload lighter lambs. This will have an impact on the overall amount of meat they can market and it results in a slight deficit in supply.
Some factories are warning that they will cut prices for lambs under 15kg carcase weight. They continue to ask farmers to draft lambs carefully, checking weight and flesh cover.
At the same time, however, some factories continue to accept light lambs bought in by their agents in marts. These lambs would usually be destined for store finisher’s farms. This may be a sign that some factories have been making do with light lambs to maintain throughput because in-spec lambs were harder to come by in recent weeks.
Quotes for cull ewes have fallen again this week, with some factories reducing quotes by 10c/kg to 20c/kg. Quotes range from €2.70/kg to €2.90/kg. Prices paid range from €2.90/kg to €3.00/kg.
Quotes in the north have fallen slightly again this week. Quotes are ranging from £3.95/kg to £4.00/kg or the equivalent of €4.67/kg to €4.73/kg at 89p to the euro and including 5.4% VAT.
Prices steady after falls